How High Schools Students Can Take Advantage of the Complex and Increasingly Subjective Nature of College Admissions

When it comes to college admissions within the United States, there are some who think that the complex and often subjective nature of the entire process is unfair to students.

After all, in many other parts of the world – such as Europe and countries in Asia – students are simply administered a series of exams which ultimately decide what school they will attend and what subjects they will study.

In the US, however, students are free to apply to as many schools as they wish and the standards of admissions are holistic and not quite as objective. In other words, everything from your academic performance to your extracurricular involvement to your personal statements and application matter.

The holistic admissions system has led to an entire ecosystem in which high school students are doing what they think will have the most positive and impactful result on their eventual admissions to these schools.

And the rules and game keep changing.

While schools used to place heavy value on a student’s standardized test scores, more and more schools are shifting away from the SAT and ACT entirely. In fact, the schools that seem to be leading the charge when it comes to this push are some of the most prestigious schools in the country, such as Ivy League and University of California schools.

So, where does this leave American students? Now that the only factor that was truly objective in the admissions process is losing importance, a new era has begun in which students get the chance to prove their worth in a much more subjective and holistic process.

Eric Eng, founder and CEO of the college admissions consulting company AdmissionSight, believes that this is opening the door for students to actually take advantage of this changing process through the right guidance and strategy.

“Now more than ever, students have the opportunity to tell their own story and make a compelling case as to why they deserve a spot at even the most competitive schools,” he said. “It’s no longer about being a good test-taker or getting the strongest grades and test scores. Now, it is about high school students proving that they are passionate, intelligent, focused and driven young adults who are simply looking for a high learning community in which they can spread their wings.”

Eng, who has years of experience helping students get into the most competitive school, clearly believes that there is a new opportunity for students. He should know, as his company boasts an incredible acceptance rate of 75 percent to the Ivy League and Top 10 schools, and 98% of his students are admitted to their top choice schools.

So, what are some of the ways that high school students can actually take advantage of this subjective and holistic approach?

There are several things outside of performing exceptionally well inside the classroom that will help students gain admission to prestigious schools like Harvard, Yale, Stanford and more.

Focus on extracurriculars

One of the best ways for students to prove that they are passionate about certain subjects and ready for the expectations, pressures and opportunities of college life is for a high school student to get deeply involved in extracurriculars. Of course, there are highly prestigious high school clubs, competitions and academic research that students can pursue, but local clubs, sports teams and community engagement are still quite valuable.

What is most important when it comes to these activities is that students stick with what they care about and pursue roles of leadership and impact in their organizations. Colleges want to see a student focused on their academic passions and how they apply their intellectual curiosity outside of the classroom to make an impact.

Apply to top summer programs

Applying and getting into top summer programs is a fantastic way for high school students to make the subjective nature of college admissions work in their favor.

In fact, many of the most competitive colleges and universities offer summer programs in a number of different subjects, from political science to environmental sustainability. This offers high school students the chance to get on a college campus and experience what it’s like to be surrounded by top professors and students. They also get the chance to form and cultivate relationships with schools that they are interested in one day applying to.

Writing an incredible personal essay

Another way for students to make the most out of the current admissions system in place is to focus heavily on crafting a compelling and rich essay that will let admissions officers learn about who you are as a student and as a unique individual.

Talk about your passions, your goals and more to give every college you apply to the sense that they simply must have you walking around their halls in the near future.

After all, what’s better than a really great story?

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AdmissionSight Inc.
(650) 338-8226

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